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08 Aug 2018

‘Cyclops’ is doing well, say uShaka staff

Shona Aylward (South Coast Herald) Picture: Cyclops safely at Dr Claire Norton's practice in Port Shepstone.

The lucky-to-be-alive penguin is recovering well and has already gained weight.

Cyclops, the one-eyed African penguin rescued at Stiebel Rocks in Umzumbe last Thursday, is responding well to treatment under the watchful eyes of uShaka Sea World staff.

Cyclops was spotted by Umzumbe resident, Graham Tilley, while he was cycling along the beach last Thursday. He contacted bird expert Andrew Pickles, who collected the bird and took it to Dr Claire Norton at the Bulwer Street Vet Hospital in Port Shepstone. Dr Norton then contacted uShaka Sea World members of the KZN Marine Stranding Network.

Cyclops, who was named after the Marvel comics superhero, was in a severely compromised condition when he arrived at uShaka Sea World. Not only was he dehydrated and markedly underweight, he had an injured left flipper and no left eye.

Ann Kunz from the South African Association for Marine Biological Research said the animal health team immediately started rehydration therapy and observations. “It was thought that Cyclops, who is about four months old, could have been born with a visual defect or had suffered an eye injury when he was very young. The injury to his flipper on the other hand was a recent injury – possibly from the bite of a small shark,” she said.

“It must be very difficult for a young penguin with only one eye to try and compete with other penguins for food and to avoid predators skilfully.

This could have led to him being stranded on a beach thousands of kilometres from home, injured, dehydrated and malnourished.”

Cyclops spends his days resting in a temperature-controlled playpen in the hospital where he is constantly monitored and given fluids, food, antibiotics and vitamins.

“With all this pampering and care it is no wonder he has put on 0.8kg since he arrived five days ago. This is a lot for such a small bird who only weighed 1.2kg when he arrived,” said Ann.

uShaka Sea World staff are confident Cyclops will continue to respond well to treatment and will soon join the other penguins in the penguin rookery.